May 16, 2018 Carlsbad High School Named America’s Most Spirited High School; Bruce Hockema of Athens Christian School Honored with Most Spirited Principal Award FARMERS BRANCH, Texas, May 14, 2018 – Varsity Brands, the leading organization that empowers young people by encouraging participation, recognizing achievement and building community and school spirit, today hosted the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards, presented by Drillstack, in Orlando, Florida. The School Spirit awards honor the very best of America’s high schools by recognizing outstanding schools, organizations and individuals that go above and beyond to build school pride, student engagement and community spirit. Winners in 25 categories, including America’s Most Spirited High School, were honored with a total of $100,000 in awards. Olympic gymnast and gold medalist Laurie Hernandez hosted the show, along with Pennsylvania-based teacher Richard Curtis, best known for his appearances as co-host on Live! With Kelly. Mr. Curtis will be hosting a new game show on Fox 29 called “The ClassH-Room” debuting October 1. “At Varsity Brands, we are dedicated to inspiring achievement and creating memorable experiences for young people, and the School Spirit Awards represents our signature event in this respect,” said Adam Blumenfeld, CEO of Varsity Brands. “These awards bring together the best of what we do at Varsity Brands’ three businesses: BSN SPORTS, Varsity Spirit, and Herff Jones. We’re honored to shine the spotlight on the people who are showcasing personal, school and community pride in their schools and local communities.” “It gives us great pride to continue to recognize the importance of school spirit and engagement every year with the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards,” added Jeff Webb, Varsity Brands’ Founder and Chairman. “The winners have demonstrated incredible personal commitment, as well as inspiring levels of community engagement. When we celebrate the leaders who take time to make our schools a better place, we hope to inspire excellence within their communities and among students and peers.” Ms. Hernandez concluded, “Through my gymnastics career, I’ve learned that it takes a village. From my coaches to fellow athletes to my fans, we get to the next level by working hard and supporting each other within our communities, just like those being recognized by the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards. It’s an honor to be surrounded by people who are dedicated to school spirit and achievement.” Carlsbad High School took home the title of America’s Most Spirited High School, as well as the $25,000 Grand Prize. The coveted Most Spirited Principal award went to Dr. Bruce Hockema, Principal of Athens Christian School. Pam Kennon, Resource Director and Cheerleading Coach at Athens Christian School, said, “Dr. Hockema has created a culture of high expectations with his engaged, ‘all-in’ style and he is an integral part of our students’ lives in the classroom, on the field, on the court, and in everyday life. He holds himself, his faculty and staff, and his students fully accountable for achievement and success.” Varsity Brands was inspired to introduce the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards after receiving a flood of exceptional entries for its America’s Most Spirited High School Contest in 2015. Varsity Brands has conducted extensive research that affirms a direct correlation between school spirit, community and school involvement, academic achievement and self-confidence. According to a Harris Poll and subsequent white paper published in 2014, 92 percent of principals agree that high school spirit is tied to high academic achievement, and 90 percent of students with high levels of school spirit are more likely to be leaders. The search for individuals who exemplify school spirit goes beyond cheerleaders and sporting events and includes the important roles that academics, community involvement and overall engagement play in driving school spirit. Watch the full Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards Show on CBS Sports Network on Sunday, June 10 at 11:00 AM ET. The complete list of winners is below, as well as available on varsitybrands.com/awards. 2018 Varsity Brands School Spirit Award Winners AMERICA’S MOST SPIRITED HIGH SCHOOL Carlsbad High School (Carlsbad, CA) MOST SPIRITED ATHLETE Tyler Hunter | Whitehaven High School (Memphis, TN) MOST SPIRITED ATHLETIC DIRECTOR Kelcie Butcher | Crawford High School (San Diego, CA) MOST SPIRITED ATHLETIC TRAINER Cynthia Cox | Bingham High School (South Jordan, UT) MOST SPIRITED BOOSTER CLUB Eastmont High School (East Wenatchee, WA) MOST SPIRITED CHOIR Gilbert Classical Academy (Gilbert, AZ) MOST SPIRITED COACH Grady Bennett | Glacier High School (Kalispell, MT) MOST SPIRITED COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT Assumption High School (Louisville, KY) MOST SPIRITED GRADUATION Santa Margarita Catholic High School (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) MOST SPIRITED MASCOT HollyAnne Hubbard | Youngker High School (Buckeye, AZ) MOST SPIRITED PEP BAND Ramona High School (Riverside, CA) MOST SPIRITED PRINCIPAL Bruce Hockema | Athens Christian School (Athens, GA) MOST SPIRITED SCHOOL COUNSELOR Samantha O’Neill | Vista PEAK Preparatory (Aurora, CO) MOST SPIRITED SCHOOL TRADITION Galileo Academy of Science and Technology (San Francisco, CA) SPIRIT OF INCLUSION Louisa County High School (Mineral, VA) SPIRIT OF SPORTSMANSHIP Rifle High School (Rifle, CO) MOST SPIRITED STAFF MEMBER Wallace Stokes | Randolph-Henry High School (Charlotte Court House, VA) MOST SPIRITED STUDENT Tyler Hewitt | Bingham High School (South Jordan, UT) MOST SPIRITED STUDENT GOVERNMENT El Modena High School (Orange, CA) MOST SPIRITED SUPERINTENDENT Doug Straley | Louisa County Public Schools (Mineral, VA) MOST SPIRITED TEACHER Tod Muilenburg | Carlsbad High School (Carlsbad, CA) MOST SPIRITED TEAM MANAGER Sean Cunnane | Broken Arrow High School (Broken Arrow, OK) MOST SPIRITED YEARBOOK Mesa High School (Mesa, AZ) About Varsity Brands With a mission to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for young people, Varsity Brands elevates the student experience, promotes participation and celebrates achievement through three unique but interrelated businesses: BSN SPORTS, a Varsity Sport Brand; Varsity Spirit; and Herff Jones, a Varsity Achievement Brand. Together, these assets promote personal, school and community pride through their customizable products and programs to elementary and middle schools, high schools, and colleges and universities, as well as church organizations, professional and collegiate sports teams and corporations. Through its 9,000 dedicated employees and independent representatives, Varsity Brands reaches its individual and institutional customers each year via catalog, telesales, e-commerce sites and direct sales channels.